Senses of authenticity in contemporary consumer culture: New versions of lifestyle sports and questions of genuineness

The concept of authenticity is more and more an important element of contemporary consumer culture. There is a tendency for a quest for authenticity, a desire for the real thing. In this paper, the concept of authenticity is related to the developments in lifestyle sports.

During the last twenty years, a remarkable new type of service has been developed in the world of sports, which can be described as ‘the indoorisation of outdoor sports’. Typical outdoor lifestyle sports like surfing, rafting, snowboarding, skydiving, rock climbing and scuba diving, which used to be exclusively practiced in natural environments, are now being offered for consumption in safe, predictable and controlled artificial settings.

As a result, questions of legitimacy and authenticity arise. The indoorisation of outdoor sports changes the perception and appreciation of typical lifestyle sports; the target group is wider, practitioners have other motivations for participation and major investments in cultural capital are no longer required to join groups of hardcore participants in these sports. Because of these changes, the authenticity of the indoor lifestyle sports is questioned. How are senses of authenticity construed in the field of lifestyle sports? And what are the consequences?